A Strengths-Based Approach to
Safety Planning for Domestic
Violence
Sherry Hamby, Ph.D.
Life Paths Research Program,
Unive...
Topics We Will Cover Today
• The limitations of the deficit-focused paradigm
and an alternative strengths-based framework....
Insights of the Akwesasne Mohawks

From Arquette et al., 2002

4
No toxin exposure, no adverse health
effects???
• What about….
– Loss of traditional hunting & fishing practices, loss
of ...
Any Escape from Deficit Models?
• Deficit models imply that women who
remain in violent relationships have failed
to cope....
Pre-Occupation with
Leaving
In an ideal world, no one would sustain violence, especially by an intimate
partner. Reality m...
Another Approach
• As Laura Brown (2010) has
stated, “What is inherent in
feminist therapy is the radical
notion that sile...
What Are Pros & Cons of
Current Dangerousness
Assessment & Safety Planning?

9
Pros of Current Strategies
• Comprehensive lists of risks of
perpetrator danger (recommend
Campbell’s Dangerousness
Assess...
Cons: An Overly Narrow Definition of
Risk --Ask Only About Factors Related to Physical
Harm

• The most frequent topics co...
A Typical Safety Plan—
Nat’l Coalition Against Domestic Violence
• If you are still in the relationship:
• Think of a safe...
…Focuses on leaving & physical
safety
If you have left the relationship:

•
• Change your phone number.
• Screen calls.
• ...
Cons for the Current State of Safety
Planning
• Too much focus on physical risk just from
perpetrator (ignores violent nei...
A Holistic Understanding of
Risk Assessment & Risk
Management:
Multiple Criteria Decision
Making
Types of Problems Addressed with
MCDM
• Selecting routes for nuclear waste transport (Chen, Wang,
& Lin, 2008).
• Promotin...
What Do These Problems Have in
Common with Battering?
• Complex problems with multiple facets
• “Success” can be evaluated...
Multiple Criteria Decision Making

From Hajkowicz, 2008

• A number of models exist—here is one representative
flow chart....
How to Apply MCDM to
Battering:
The VIGOR
(Victim Inventory of
Goals, Options, & Risks)
19
A. Personal Physical Risks
• 56% of attempted IP homicides are precipitated by victim
leaving or saying she would leave (F...
% custodial interference

Leaving is not always safer!
Custodial Interference & WPV

72% of family abductions occurred in ...
B. Physical Risks Posed to Others
• Concern for others can constrain coping:
–
–
–
–
–

Children
Family members
Friends—es...
C. Financial Risks
• Financial dependence is often the most
commonly mentioned reason for staying
(e.g., Cruz, 2003).
• Ma...
D. Legal Risks
• Dual arrests are on the rise
(Hirschel & Buzawa, 2002)
• Arrest of batterer unlikely to lead
to jail time...
E. Social Risks
• Stigma—Almost all of the social
statuses associated with leaving a
violent relationship are stigmatized:...
F. Other risks
• Personal & psychological risks
– Loneliness
– Sense of failure
– Perceived loss of fealty to religious va...
“Derivative losses”
• In the broader world of risk management,
these types of risks are known as
“derivative losses” (Jian...
Creating the VIGOR: Victim Inventory of
Goals, Options, & Risks
• 6 other experienced advocates reviewed the
VIGOR and pro...
VIGOR Step 1: Identify Women’s Risks &
Priorities

29
Sample Risk Assessment
Risk category

Your risks

Primary concern?
(Y/N)

Personal safety
Safety of others (ex.,
children,...
Step 1: Identify Risks
60
50

53.4

47.6

46.6

44.7

40
27.2

30
20

27.2

Lose
custody

Family
rejection

16.5

10
0

Fe...
Step 2: Identify Strengths
60

54.4
48.5

50

45.6

41.7

41.7

40.8

39.8

Have
friends

Shelter

Personal
Strength

Have...
If you only remember one thing:
Assess strengths!
• “This was a great help to me just in writing
these things down, “seein...
Step 3: Identify Women’s Options
• “Traditional” advocacy services: shelters, OPs, support
groups, physical safety plannin...
Step 3: Identify Options. More
than 140 identified!
60
50

40
30
20

49

47.1

37.3

35.3

31.4

31.4

30.4

29.4

25.5

2...
Novel Options
Reported by single or few respondents

• Increase internet/digital security
(myspace, facebook, email)
– 1 i...
Step 4: Make Choices Based on Risk
Priorities & Options
• In MCDM, an option has “strict dominance” if it is
better than o...
Client Perceptions of the
VIGOR
VIGOR 1

VIGOR 2

100
90

90

80

80

70

70

60

%

100

60

50

50

40

40

30

30

20

...
Pros & Cons of a Strengths-Based
Framework?

Angela Browne
Conclusions
• Ensuring the safety and well-being of children is
the primary mission of all organizations and
professionals...
• Much of this work is starting to be
done, perhaps by many of you.
• We need to make this approach more
widespread and sy...
Various free resources:
The VIGOR safety plan website: http://thevigor.org
Narrative and strengths-based resources at
http...
Styk uclan nov 13
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Styk uclan nov 13

  1. 1. A Strengths-Based Approach to Safety Planning for Domestic Violence Sherry Hamby, Ph.D. Life Paths Research Program, University of the South Presented at the Connect Centre for International Research on New Approaches to Prevent Violence & Harm, University of Central Lancashire November 6, 2013 sherry.hamby@sewanee.edu
  2. 2. Topics We Will Cover Today • The limitations of the deficit-focused paradigm and an alternative strengths-based framework. • How understanding the full spectrum of risks is important to recognizing the full spectrums of strengths • Battered women’s protective strategies • A new approach to risk assessment and safety planning
  3. 3. Insights of the Akwesasne Mohawks From Arquette et al., 2002 4
  4. 4. No toxin exposure, no adverse health effects??? • What about…. – Loss of traditional hunting & fishing practices, loss of traditional medicines – Alternative diets that are high in fat and calories and low in vitamins and nutrients, leading to • • • • • Diabetes Heart disease Stroke High blood pressure Obesity (Arquette et al., 2002) 5
  5. 5. Any Escape from Deficit Models? • Deficit models imply that women who remain in violent relationships have failed to cope. • Is it right to call victimized women “compliant zombies,” “intentional game players” or people with “masochistic self states”? Well, it is in published “scholarship” • Theoretical models focus on cognitive distortions and behavioral deficits: – Battered Woman’s Syndrome (Walker, 1984) – Traumatic bonding (Dutton, 1995; Graham et al., 1994) – Transtheoretical model of behavior change (Lerner & Kennedy, many more).
  6. 6. Pre-Occupation with Leaving In an ideal world, no one would sustain violence, especially by an intimate partner. Reality much more grim for many women. The dangers of staying with a violent partner may be less than the dangers of living on the streets. The pain of an occasional beating may be less than the pain of losing custody of one’s children to a violent man. Assuming that leaving is always better has led to unhelpful interventions and has contributed to victim blaming. Unfortunately, in many studies on coping, leaving and steps directly tied to leaving are the only positive coping strategies measured.
  7. 7. Another Approach • As Laura Brown (2010) has stated, “What is inherent in feminist therapy is the radical notion that silenced voices of marginalized people are considered to be the sources of greatest wisdom.” • Looking down on your clients as passive or “compromised” is not a therapeutic position (Hamby, 2014)
  8. 8. What Are Pros & Cons of Current Dangerousness Assessment & Safety Planning? 9
  9. 9. Pros of Current Strategies • Comprehensive lists of risks of perpetrator danger (recommend Campbell’s Dangerousness Assessment for this). • Many safety planning suggestions accumulated from advocates’ experiences (National Domestic Violence Hotline website is representative). • Easy to use 10
  10. 10. Cons: An Overly Narrow Definition of Risk --Ask Only About Factors Related to Physical Harm • The most frequent topics covered by popular dangerousness/lethality assessment tools are (Laing, 2004; Websdale, 2000) : – – – – – – – – – prior victimization; batterer’s drug & alcohol problems; batterer’s obsessiveness & jealousy; batterer’s threats to kill the victim or her children; batterer access to & familiarity with weapons; batterer’s violence outside the home; stalking; batterer’s suicidal ideation & behavior; partners are separated, or victim is fleeing. 11
  11. 11. A Typical Safety Plan— Nat’l Coalition Against Domestic Violence • If you are still in the relationship: • Think of a safe place to go if an argument occurs - avoid rooms with no exits (bathroom), or rooms with weapons (kitchen). • Think about and make a list of safe people to contact. • Keep change with you at all times. • Memorize all important numbers. • Establish a "code word" or "sign" so that family, friends, teachers or co-workers know when to call for help. • Think about what you will say to your partner if heshe becomes violent. • Remember, you have the right to live without fear and violence. 12 12
  12. 12. …Focuses on leaving & physical safety If you have left the relationship: • • Change your phone number. • Screen calls. • Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the batterer. • Change locks, if the batterer has a key. • Avoid staying alone. • Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner. • If you have to meet your partner, do it in a public place. • Vary your routine. • Notify school and work contacts. • Call a shelter for battered women. • If you leave the relationship or are thinking of leaving, you should take important papers and documents with you to enable you to apply for benefits or take legal action. 13 13
  13. 13. Cons for the Current State of Safety Planning • Too much focus on physical risk just from perpetrator (ignores violent neighborhoods, homelessness, etc). • Little guidance on dealing with the financial, legal, and social risks faced by virtually all battered women. • Generic lists—not personalized • Doesn’t reflect the complexities that providers see every day. Leaves advocates to figure out how to do this on their own, one at a time, over and over again. 14 14
  14. 14. A Holistic Understanding of Risk Assessment & Risk Management: Multiple Criteria Decision Making
  15. 15. Types of Problems Addressed with MCDM • Selecting routes for nuclear waste transport (Chen, Wang, & Lin, 2008). • Promoting recycling (Gomes et al., 2008) • Understanding stock trading (Albadvi et al., 2007) • Deciding best locations for emergency vehicles (Araz et al., 2007) • Understanding “medical tourism”—when people will decide to have surgery abroad (Bies & Zacharia, 2007) • …and dozens of other applications in environmental sciences, engineering, agriculture, and finance (Hajkowicz, 2008) 16
  16. 16. What Do These Problems Have in Common with Battering? • Complex problems with multiple facets • “Success” can be evaluated on multiple criteria • Not all criteria easily evaluated with dollars or some other uniform metric—involve value judgements (originally developed as an alternative to cost-benefit analysis). • Multiple options to choose from, and these options vary in how well they meet different criteria. 17
  17. 17. Multiple Criteria Decision Making From Hajkowicz, 2008 • A number of models exist—here is one representative flow chart. • OK, engineers can be fond of complexity, but can simplify this considerably 18
  18. 18. How to Apply MCDM to Battering: The VIGOR (Victim Inventory of Goals, Options, & Risks) 19
  19. 19. A. Personal Physical Risks • 56% of attempted IP homicides are precipitated by victim leaving or saying she would leave (Farr, 2002). • NVAWS data also show violence persists after leaving. • Longitudinal studies suggest some violence stops even if victim stays (e.g., Aldarondo & Sugarman, 1996; Jasinski, 2001). From 20
  20. 20. % custodial interference Leaving is not always safer! Custodial Interference & WPV 72% of family abductions occurred in WPV homes! From Hamby et al., 2010
  21. 21. B. Physical Risks Posed to Others • Concern for others can constrain coping: – – – – – Children Family members Friends—especially those who offer shelter Pets Others, such as coworkers, advocates, etc. • Ex: Across 6 studies, 48% of women in shelters reported their pets had been harmed, 45% said they had been threatened, and 26% said the welfare of their pets delayed their decision to leave (Hamby, in preparation). 22
  22. 22. C. Financial Risks • Financial dependence is often the most commonly mentioned reason for staying (e.g., Cruz, 2003). • Many areas of potential loss: – – – – – – – – Lower standard of living Loss of savings Cannot afford neighborhoods with low crime or good schools Would have to drop out of own schooling Job loss Loss of health insurance Loss of car/transportation Doesn’t have security deposit, rent, furniture for even a terrible 23 apartment in a terrible neighborhood.
  23. 23. D. Legal Risks • Dual arrests are on the rise (Hirschel & Buzawa, 2002) • Arrest of batterer unlikely to lead to jail time—will be back home & madder than ever • If disclose abuse to authorities, may be reported to CPS for “exposing” children to dv • D-I-V-O-R-C-E risks • Risks losing custody of children • Risks unfair divorce settlement 24
  24. 24. E. Social Risks • Stigma—Almost all of the social statuses associated with leaving a violent relationship are stigmatized: – “victim” – “divorced” – “single mother” • Loss of friendships, extended family, support of minister/congregants • Children’s loss of friends, schools, sports • May stigmatize entire family in many communities 25
  25. 25. F. Other risks • Personal & psychological risks – Loneliness – Sense of failure – Perceived loss of fealty to religious values • Deportation • Victims with disabilities and elderly victims may lose needed assistance with self-care, health care • Members of oppressed minority groups may not receive equal treatment by law enforcement or human service providers. 26
  26. 26. “Derivative losses” • In the broader world of risk management, these types of risks are known as “derivative losses” (Jiang & Haimes, 2004) and are common after many types of catastrophic events, such as terrorist attack, war, or natural disaster. • Can have a cascading effect, “which may be far greater than the initial loss inflicted by the direct disturbance” (Jiang & Haimes, 2004, p 1215). 27
  27. 27. Creating the VIGOR: Victim Inventory of Goals, Options, & Risks • 6 other experienced advocates reviewed the VIGOR and provided extensive feedback, paid $100 honorarium. • 2 pilot studies, each with approx 100 individuals who have been victims of battering • Students in an undergraduate research seminar helped further streamline and simplify the wording. • Available for free at thevigor.org. 28
  28. 28. VIGOR Step 1: Identify Women’s Risks & Priorities 29
  29. 29. Sample Risk Assessment Risk category Your risks Primary concern? (Y/N) Personal safety Safety of others (ex., children, family, pets) Financial risks (ex., insufficient income, health insurance, need safe housing) Legal risks (ex., custody, CPS, immigration, problems with law enforcement) Social risks (ex, rejection by family, church, community) Other 30
  30. 30. Step 1: Identify Risks 60 50 53.4 47.6 46.6 44.7 40 27.2 30 20 27.2 Lose custody Family rejection 16.5 10 0 Fear of Fear Financially Concern for Lack Social physical partner will insecure children* Support harm to self murder them *Concern for children includes concern for their physical, emotional, and social well-being 31
  31. 31. Step 2: Identify Strengths 60 54.4 48.5 50 45.6 41.7 41.7 40.8 39.8 Have friends Shelter Personal Strength Have a job 40 30 20 10 0 Family support Church Religious Community faith *Personal strength refers to a sense of being capable and having the ability to persevere. 32
  32. 32. If you only remember one thing: Assess strengths! • “This was a great help to me just in writing these things down, “seeing” it on paper aided me in recognizing my accomplishments and what I yet need to do!” • “Helped me see different options I may have.” • “I liked thinking about my strengths.” • “I liked having to think and acknowledge my strengths and options—made me hopeful.” 33
  33. 33. Step 3: Identify Women’s Options • “Traditional” advocacy services: shelters, OPs, support groups, physical safety planning • Need to expand our toolkit. A better appreciation of risks will help focus on other needs—financial planning, job training, dealing with a stigmatized identity, talking with family members, clergy • Also need to re-think our time frame—many options cannot realistically be implemented in the 30 or 60 or 90 days allowed to stay in shelter. • In the VIGOR studies, women identified 147 different options! (Battered Women’s Protective Strategies: Stronger Than You Know). 34
  34. 34. Step 3: Identify Options. More than 140 identified! 60 50 40 30 20 49 47.1 37.3 35.3 31.4 31.4 30.4 29.4 25.5 23.5 19.6 18.6 10 0 35
  35. 35. Novel Options Reported by single or few respondents • Increase internet/digital security (myspace, facebook, email) – 1 in 5 reported • • • • • • Get a dog Apply for a gun permit Sleep with a knife under pillow Find new friends/confidants Exercise Change locks (5%)
  36. 36. Step 4: Make Choices Based on Risk Priorities & Options • In MCDM, an option has “strict dominance” if it is better than others on some criteria, and at least as good on all others. • The result: NOT a generic checklist of safety precautions, BUT a personalized plan that links coping responses to specific risks. • Fleeing on an emergency basis with few belongings and possibly not even with your children, will not minimize many risks faced by typical battered women. 37
  37. 37. Client Perceptions of the VIGOR VIGOR 1 VIGOR 2 100 90 90 80 80 70 70 60 % 100 60 50 50 40 40 30 30 20 20 10 10 0 0 Helpul to most More helpful than past safety planning Helpul to most More helpful than past safety planning 38
  38. 38. Pros & Cons of a Strengths-Based Framework? Angela Browne
  39. 39. Conclusions • Ensuring the safety and well-being of children is the primary mission of all organizations and professionals who serve children & families. • A more integrated, coordinated approach offers possibilities for programming efficiencies and greater efficacy that are important with the prospect of lean budget times in the foreseeable future. • It is possible to build on past successes that made violence a recognized social problem and look to ways to accomplish even more. 40
  40. 40. • Much of this work is starting to be done, perhaps by many of you. • We need to make this approach more widespread and systematic, especially for new professionals • Include it more formally and consistently in our training programs and clinical supervision
  41. 41. Various free resources: The VIGOR safety plan website: http://thevigor.org Narrative and strengths-based resources at http://lifepathsresearch.org Poly-victimization materials at the National Children’s Advocacy Center website: http://www.nationalcac.org/caliolibrary/polyvictimization.html Juvenile Victimization Questionnaire: http://cola.unh.edu/ccrc/juvenile-victimizationquestionnaire Thank you!
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